And for Five Points, Explain the Universe

I’m starting to prepare a midterm exam for Principles of Economics, and for inspiration I looked at an exam given by a colleague who taught this course about fifteen years ago. There I find the following question, worth 3 points out of 140:

What happened in the Great Depression?

I wonder if you lost points for failing to mention that Clark Gable won the Oscar.

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12 Responses to “And for Five Points, Explain the Universe”


  1. 1 1 Will A

    The answer is obvious: “Stuff” happened in the Great Depression.

  2. 2 2 Yancey Ward

    For the cost of a lousy 3 points, I probably would have written, “I took up drinking.”

  3. 3 3 Harold

    Did you have the marking scheme for the exam? It seems that for three marks any answer consistent with the economics sylabus would do. It is more of a test of exam technique rather than knowledge of economics.

  4. 4 4 A Leap at the Wheel

    My great grandpaw changed his household purchasing by substituted sauerkraut for pork, beans for chicken, and beans for beef, all without a textbook defining Giffen goods.

  5. 5 5 Prior Probability (Enrique)

    If a student writes something to the effect that aggregate demand contracted … Would that be enough for the 3 points?

  6. 6 6 Patrick R. Sullivan

    Regardless of how many points the question is worth, I’m pretty sure Barack Obama would get zero.

  7. 7 7 Gabe Wittenberg

    Bad monetary policy. I have yet to a read a suitable alternative to Hayek’s trade cycle theory, including all ad hoc non-monetary explanations.

  8. 8 8 Al V.

    Define the Great Depression. Was it from 1929-33, the period when U.S. GDP shrank, which matches the definition of a recession? Or is it the period from 1929-40, when U.S. unemployment exceeded 10%? Or something else?

    I need to know to be able to list everything that happened.

  9. 9 9 nobody.really

    What happened in the Great Depression?

    Nothing. As Zeno demonstrates —
    1) the very concept of “happening” is illusory, and
    2) the idea that the depression was “Great” was mostly marketing.

  10. 10 10 khodge

    I’m not sure I can answer this. I didn’t have an ipad at the time this question was written.

  11. 11 11 Henri Hein

    So did it inspire?

  12. 12 12 RG

    People lost confidence about their economic future and lost trust

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